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Study of the histological components and the development of the prostate during the fetal period

Julio Junior, H1; Gallo, C1; Costa, W1Sampaio, F1; Favorito, L1

1: State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Objective: Studies of the structure and development of the prostate during the human fetal period are rare. The aim of this study was to determine the development of prostate thickness, the prostatic urethra and the histological components in the prostate during the human fetal period, by histological and stereological analysis.

Materials and Methods: We studied 16 prostates obtained from 16 human fetuses ranging in age from 12 to 35 weeks postconception. The fetuses were macroscopically well preserved, without anomalies of the urinary and genital system. The prostate was dissected and embedded in paraffin, from which 5-µm thick sections were obtained and stained with Masson’s trichrome to quantify connective and smooth muscle tissue, and stained with Weigert’s resorcin fucsin to observe elastic system fibers. The images were captured with an Olympus BX51 microscope coupled to an Olympus DP70 camera. The stereological analysis was done with the ImageJ Pro and ImageJ programs, using a grid to determine volumetric densities (Vv) and to determine the area of the prostatic urethra lumen and prostatic thickness. Means were statistically compared using simple linear regression and the paired t-test (p<0.05).

Results: The fetuses weighed between 210 and 2860g, and had crown-rump length between 9.5 and 34cm. We did not observe elastic system fibers in any prostate analyzed. Quantitative analysis indicated no differences in Vv of smooth muscle cells (mean=30.66 ± 3.585%) and connective tissue (mean=42.86 ± 5.928 %) of prostates during the fetal period studied (p=0.0164). The linear regression analysis indicated that the prostate thickness (mean=1196.449 micrometers: 989.580 to 1403.016 micrometers) increases significantly and positively with fetal age (r2=0.27). The linear regression analysis indicated that the prostatic urethra lumen (mean=274.659 micrometers: 77.818 to 691.027 micrometers) decreases during the fetal period (r2=0.10).

Conclusion: The histological analysis of the smooth muscle and connective tissue of the developing prostate reveals that there are no differences during the fetal period studied. Prostate thickness increases with fetal age and prostatic urethra lumen decreases during the human fetal period.


Work supported by industry: no.

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